SAN ANTONIO, Texas — The dust is just barely starting to settle.
With three full weeks left on the 2018 DCI Tour schedule, nothing’s set in stone. But after Saturday’s DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc. — the first meeting of all 24 World Class corps — there’s a much clearer picture of what the competitive landscape looks like across the scoreboard.
In particular, the ever-blurry cut-off line for the coveted top 12 — corps that will advance to the DCI World Championship Finals in August — is beginning to fall into place.
“The anticipation [of performing in San Antonio] was great,” Spirit of Atlanta drum major Aidan Lerner said. “The vets pushed the rookies to hype the show, because being in San Antonio is huge.”
At the same event a year ago, the Mandarins (11th, 82.175) made major headlines by finishing among the Top 12, but were bumped into 13th place by the Madison Scouts by the time the DCI World Championships concluded.
Mandarins’ current 1.325-point cushion above the cut-off line, however, appears a bit sturdier this time around. In 2017, the Sacramento corps saw just three tenths of a point separate itself from the outside of the coveted Top 12.
“I think this year alone has already started off being a great statement,” Mandarins drum major Marcus Holifield-Helm said. “The best part is, even though we’re doing really well competitively, we’re really working to best ourselves from last year and every day this year.”
Behind the Mandarins though, things were even tighter, specifically between Crossmen (12th, 80.850) and The Academy (79.725).
The two hadn’t met prior to Saturday’s event, but had each faced Spirit of Atlanta once heading into San Antonio, holding advantages of just over a point in those meetings.
Their 1.125-point gap in San Antonio makes it seem like there may be a similar race between 12th and 13th place as there was last season heading down the stretch. While Crossmen kept its lead thanks to a strong advantage in total visual, The Academy’s brass and general effect scores kept things tight.
“It’s a competitive event and it’s a competitive activity so obviously we’re driven by competition,” Crossmen drum major Randall Himes said. “But a lot of this year we’ve focused on performing for each other and performing the best we can.”
But the race doesn’t stop with the Arizona corps; Spirit of Atlanta (14th, 78.188) continued to lurk just over two-and-a-half points from the finalist cut-off in San Antonio. Strengthened by its 12th-place finish in percussion, the corps kept itself within striking distance of the Top 12, a position it hasn’t held since 2013.
“Having all the corps here motivates us in every way imaginable,” Lerner added. “Scores are always in the back of everybody’s mind, as much as everyone tries to claim that they're not. We’ve been saying this is Spirit’s biggest chance to show everyone who we are since the corps’ rebirth in 2016.”
All four corps will continue jockeying for position as the DCI Tour heads to Georgia for the next marquee event, the DCI Southeastern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion.